Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Oh my glueness....Part 2!

It rained today.  Right after I got home from Hobby Lobby.  What better way to spend my time than to "decorate" my glue bottles...right!?

All of the craft stores have really cute duct tape, but I found some that was perfect for my classroom in so many ways.  I love the color red and last year, I covered my bulletin board in red and white chevron.  I LOVED IT!  I'm leaving the red and white chevron up this year, but I'm going to split my board up by putting up large pieces of burlap over the chevron to give the illusion that I have two bulletin boards bordered in chevron.  

Back to the glue.  Remember the burlap I'm putting up?  Well I found some super cute duct tape that looks like burlap ribbon with red polka dots.  (And, if it couldn't get any better, it's made right here in the USA!)  Anyway, I thought the duct tape was perfect!  I get to tie in my love of red with the burlap I'm putting on the bulletin board.  The polka dots can serve as a reminder that "a dot is a lot" to (hopefully) help remind the students that they only needs glue dots on the corners.  Soooo cute, right?

In the interest of full disclosure, I should add a disclaimer here.  These little glue bottles were more than a little difficult to find.  Well, ok, let me qualify that, it was difficult to find them at a good price.  In truth I paid more per bottle than I would have for the larger 4 oz. bottles.  Silly, I know, but I bought into the rationale behind them and I figure I can always fill them with glue from the less expensive 4 oz. bottles.

Don't they just make you want to make an interactive notebook?

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Keeping Track of Students Who Attend Tutorials

Like many of you, we are required to hold regularly scheduled tutorials.  Our school has a late start (8:50 am) so I like to hold my tutorials in the morning when the kiddos are "wide-eyed and bushy-tailed" (as my grandma would say).  In the morning, students tend to be more alert and (hopefully) they get more out of our 30 minutes.  It sounds good in theory, right?!

Anyway, it's important to keep track of who comes.  It helps when talking to parents.  It's a good talking point with students when they are struggling.  Administrators and counselors often ask.  It's just good data.  The problem, as we all know, is collecting and maintaining the data.  It's downright time consuming!

This week I had a true a-ha moment and I literally can't wait for school to start to implement my new plan.  What is it, you ask?  Oh right...here goes...

I'm going to post a QR code (this part was my friend Danielle's idea) that students can scan with their phones as they enter.  The QR code will take them to a Google Form that can be used to collect and store the data.

For students who don't have a phone, I will make sure there is a computer up and running (with the form pulled up) that students can use to enter their information.  I've even got it set up so that on the "thank you for your submission" screen there's a link to submit another entry.  Google time-stamps entries, so there's no question about date and time.

This really is going to be a game-changer this year.  Now when someone needs to know if "little Johnny" has been attending tutorials, I can open my spreadsheet and sort it.  So much easier than flipping through pages of sign-in sheets!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

#CAMT14 Day 2

Today I went to the coolest session at #CAMT14.  In it, we talked about engineering and using engineering problems in the math classroom to engage students.  What was really cool about this session was the engagement.  The presenter had a hard time getting our attention because everyone was so into the activity.

Oh, I'm sorry....you want to know what the activity was?  We were given a baggie with 5 hard mints, 5 drinking straws, 5 popsicle sticks, tape, scissors, and two pieces of paper.  We were tasked with designing a "vehicle" that could travel the farthest with one "puff" of air.  First we had to draw our design.  While we didn't take time in the session to do this, with a class you would want to focus on communication.  The drawing should be detailed enough that someone else could make the "vehicle" from your design.

Then we had to make our vehicle.  Do you know how much cooperation that takes?  We had some serious control issues in my group and as a result we nearly didn't finish.  The presenter showed a picture of a completed "vehicle" from one of the classes she had worked with and I really think that that kind of inhibited some creativity.  Many of the groups more or less copied the design of the one in the picture (we didn't, by the way, thank-you-very-much!).

There were some very heated "races", and you could hear cheers going up around the room from the teams who were successful in creating a "fast car".

What was really cool was the discussion that ensued about the math involved in the design of the vehicles.  Some things we came up with:

  1. How does the shape of the vehicle affect the distance the car will travel with one puff of air?
  2. What volume of air will the vehicle hold?
  3. What measurements were used to build the vehicle?
  4. Does the distance between wheels have any affect on the distance the vehicle will travel?

The possibilities really were endless!

If you're interested in looking at how to incorporate more engineering challenges into your classroom, check out these sites:

If you're looking for engagement, it's worth trying at least once!  You will have fun and so will your students!  Come on....you know you want to.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Oh my glueness....

Today was day one of #CAMT14.  This is my third year attending the conference and it's so nice to be able to meet and collaborate with like-minded teachers who are looking for ways to improve their craft.

Rather than try to fit my whole day into one post, I've decided to share the one thing from today that I think will make the biggest impact on my classroom this year.  Glue!  Glue is essential for interactive notebooks, and you can't just use any glue.  All teachers know that glue sticks don't really stick (the "stick" in glue stick refers to the shape of the product, not what the product does!).  In order to ensure that items in your notebook stay adhered to your notebook, you need to use white school glue.

But, white school glue comes with its own issues.  The kids don't know the meaning of less is more and use enough to put Humpty Dumpty back together!  Today's tidbit, was to only use the small glue bottles in class.

The bottles we used today were 1.25 oz.  The rationale?  Your students will see the smaller bottle and think that they need to use it sparingly so as not to use all of the glue.  (What mind games we sometimes play!).  I've done some research, and since these bottles are less "standard", they are actually more expensive than the 4 oz. bottles (there's definitely a math problem in there!), but since the bottles can be refilled, stock up on the 4 oz. bottles during the back to school sales and use them to refill the smaller bottles.

What about clogged bottles you ask?  Did you know you can pull off the little orange "cap" (I know your students do!).  If you pull off the "cap", take some petroleum jelly and coat the inside.  It will prevent your glue from clogging.  Easy, right?!

One last idea.....you've seen all of the fun duct tape that the craft stores have these days, right?!  Find some colorful tape and wrap the bottle around the label.  It'll serve a couple of purposes, but first and foremost, it'll make the bottle really cute, and who doesn't love that!  (It'll also reinforce the bottle - the kids sometime squeeze hard!, and there will be no question about who the bottle belongs to!)

I seriously can't believe I just wrote an entire post on glue!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Hello again

Wow!  I really can't believe it's been as long as it has.  I have really neglected my blogging duties...I guess teaching does that sometimes.

I'm headed to CAMT 2014 next week and I can't wait!  Eager beaver that I am, I have already "previewed" the online version of the conference program.  Given the magnitude of the conference, the program is huge and not all that easy to navigate, but I waded into the waters anyway and took a peek (I just couldn't wait)!  One of the challenges I've always had with CAMT is that there are some time slots where I have 3 or 4 sessions that look interesting and sometimes there are time slots where none of them pique my interest.  Really....why can't they spread them out better!?  If only I had been consulted!

Another problem with CAMT is that some sessions are so popular that you literally have to skip the session before the one you want to attend to get in line.  On the one hand, you know you'll get into the session you want, on the other hand, you're wasting time standing in line.  Such a dilemma!

So, how when you are attending a conference and have to choose between sessions, how do you choose?